The dawn of the Internet Age sparked a retail revolution that forever changed the way consumers browse, compare, and buy merchandise. Players like Amazon and Google are often cited as the biggest influencers in the rise of online shopping, but as early as the mid-nineties, airlines and agencies began to offer travelers the option to book tickets online. Around the same time, an online catalogue of hotels became available for travelers around the world to browse and book. These early players in the online travel space cemented the travel industry’s role in the ecommerce revolution to come.
Technology providers are constantly exploring new ways to influence the changing industry. As data capture increasingly enables personalized human-to-machine interactions, it’s up to the data owners to responsibly and intelligently leverage that data. As new data capture technologies emerge in the travel industry, mindful collaboration and transparency are crucial to delivering success for all.
A network of industry partners is shaping the landscape of travel booking. Sabre’s mission is to lead the way by integrating three new intelligent retailing solutions in Sabre Red 360: New Distribution Capability (NDC), New Airline Storefront, and Content Services for Lodging.
NDC Dynamic Air Offers Add to Traveler Options
Airlines leaders and industry experts are working together to develop to the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard and create a highly intelligent air shopping experience. It takes partnership to achieve a paradigm shift as monumental as NDC, and who best to embrace these changing distribution dynamics than those who sell travel? Travel agencies are just as eager as airlines, and travel technology companies like Sabre are committed to decoding the new influx of information in a way that makes sense to the travel consultant.
For Sabre Red 360, NDC represents an exciting leap forward in adding personalization to the travel marketplace for consultants. Through the implementation of Sabre’s NDC-enabled Offer and Order APIs, travel consultants will soon be able to request, compare, and book NDC Offers through Sabre Red 360 air shopping. The more preference data a traveler is willing to give to the consultant or airline, the greater the level of personalization of the NDC Offers returned. Most importantly, these NDC Offers will be presented side-by-side with traditional air content in one single display. Consultants will be able to compare different airlines, compare Branded Fares from those airlines, and compare NDC Offers available only to that particular traveler – all from initiating one simple search.
“While some might have seen NDC as a GDS-killer, we’re in this together to create a win-win-win for the industry,” says Kathy Morgan, Sabre’s Vice President of NDC. And as Sabre Red 360 begins to consume Sabre’s NDC-enabled Offer and Order APIs, partnering across the travel industry is critical to ensure NDC solutions meet the needs of airlines, agencies, and most importantly – travelers. Sabre is relying on feedback from a diverse group of trusted partners to simplify the NDC workflow through intelligence and automation.
New Airline Storefront Decodes Complexity with Modernized Results
To remain profitable, agencies and airlines alike have realized that retailing can no longer be centered just around the lowest fare. The focus must be on the best offer that delivers value, promotes traveler satisfaction and in turn, encourages retention.
During the initial shopping experience, the lowest fare is still the primary driver in most air travel purchase decisions. However, traveler shopping behavior and expectations are changing, and travelers are willing to pay more for a ‘better’ fare with more personalized inclusions.
To deliver an exceptional traveler experience, agencies must consider travel purpose as well as preferences related to airline products and services such as baggage, seats, or early boarding. Personalizing the offer for the traveler is only possible if the travel consultant has access to more options at the point of sale – this is where the new storefront comes in.
Sabre’s new airline storefront is the next evolution of comparison shopping and retailing of air offers. The storefront solves how to display the diverse offers, e.g. branded fares, a la carte ancillaries, bundling, and NDC offers in an easily comparable way. Powered by the latest generation of Sabre’s Air Shopping API, multiple fares per itinerary are categorized by products and services to clearly view what’s included and what’s not per fare level. The storefront is a vital step towards the adoption of NDC, because it ensures travel agencies can recommend travelers the right offer at the right time.
Reimagined Lodging Expands Traveler Options
Big changes are happening for those who buy and sell air, but Sabre is also taking on intelligent retailing from the ground up with Content Services for Lodging (CSL). CSL is a new suite of APIs that integrates Sabre hotel content alongside aggregator content from Booking.com, Expedia, and Bedsonline into a cohesive and consistent display, allowing the travel consultant to easily filter out options that don’t make sense, like non-refundable rates for the traveler who demands flexibility.
Content Services for Lodging simplifies comparison shopping by presenting different rates from different sources along with attributes, like breakfast inclusions and refundability. Because the amenity information is presented in an easy-to-navigate display, travel consultants are empowered to act as true advisors and match the best rates to their traveler’s unique needs – without having to conduct additional research outside of Sabre Red 360.
Consultants can access traveler preferences for hotel chains up-front; and they’re referencing this data every day when engaging in conversation with travelers. With increasing flexibility of travel policy and diversity of options, consultants are expected to find the best matched choice regardless of source to stay ahead of the curve. And that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Consultants must also factor in available commissions and corporate discounts to maximize corporation and traveler savings. With the intelligent hotel shopping display, this information is available all in a single screen – making split-second decisions possible.
The Future of Retailing Is Already Here
API-powered and designed to be customized, Sabre Red 360 was developed to keep pace with rapidly changing industry demands and to integrate new technology as soon as it becomes available. Sabre Red 360 aimed to achieve two goals: one, to enable the consultant to work as efficiently and intuitively as possible, and two, to enable the consultant to effectively comparison shop across multiple sources with multiple data inputs.
While these new technologies are exciting advancements in the world of travel personalization and data integration, the capabilities are designed to complement the travel consultant’s expertise and enhance the shopping experience. NDC allows airlines to tailor the offer based on what traveler data is made available, but it’s up to the travel consultant to compare the airline offers to other available fares and choose what’s best for the traveler. The new airline storefront provides the consultant with a simplified view of what’s included in a fare, but it’s up to the consultant to match those inclusions to their traveler’s unique needs. And Content Services for Lodging can integrate over a million lodging options into one cohesive display, but it’s the consultant who knows exactly which of those million lodging options is the perfect one for their traveler.
The travel industry will continue to evolve at a breakneck pace. There’s no way to predict what innovations and trends will emerge in the next 25 years of travel, but Sabre remains committed to developing with the latest technology and providing relevant solutions to hundreds of thousands of travel professionals around the world. Beginning with the launch of Content Services for Lodging in February, Sabre Red 360 will soon feature some of the newest retailing technology in travel, seamlessly integrated in the same intuitive interface Sabre Red 360 consultants have used from the beginning.
The next evolution of intelligent retailing in Sabre Red 360 is here. NDC and the new airline storefront are just around the corner. For Sabre customers wanting access to more lodging content in Sabre Red 360, beta testing is well underway, and early access to Content Services for Lodging will be available to Sabre Red 360 customers on an opt-in basis starting in October.